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Midnight Run - Review

Midnight Run

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 5 out of 5

ROBERT De Niro arrived at Midnight Run looking to do something lighter, having just played Al Capone to such memorable effect in The Untouchables. He had initially wanted to do Big but when the producers of that film turned him down, he opted to play foul-mouthed bounty hunter Jack Walsh in Martin Brest’s comedy road-movie thriller.

The resulting film saw him paired with Charles Grodin to create box office dynamite. Midnight Run is, without question, one of the best films of the ’80s – a foul-mouthed, funny, exciting and often action-packed mis-matched buddy comedy thriller that proved a consistent delight.

De Niro plays Walsh, a bounty hunter assigned a job that could set him up for retirement. All he has to do is get bail-jumping accountant Jonathan ‘The Duke’ Mardukas (Charles Grodin) back to Los Angeles by midnight on Friday.

But things aren’t that simple. The Duke has embezzled $15 million from the Mob and they want him dead; the FBI want to get to him first to testify; and Jack just wants him to shut up after five minutes in his company.

The ensuing road trip is frought with peril as Jack seeks to outwit Yaphet Kotto’s bullish Agent Mosely, put one over long-time nemesis and crime boss Jimmy Serrano (Dennis Farina) and remain one step ahead of rival bounty hunter Marv (John Ashton), while also keeping his slippery prisoner in check.

One of the great joys of watching Midnight Run is the rapid-fire banter that exists between De Niro and Grodin. The two have undoubted chemistry and are a perfect foil for each other: De Niro all pent-up rage, Grodin a model of self-control and calculated cool, even when feigning panic.

But there’s equally memorable support, too, from the likes of Kotto (brilliantly dead-pan in his dealings with De Niro), Farina (suitably smarmy as the villain) and Joe Pantoliano (nicely untrustworthy as the bail-man).

The action, when it comes, is nicely handled by Brest, who doesn’t pull too many punches, while the twists and turns that take place along the way are all fun and sometimes unexpected. It’s a consistently inventive film that keeps you guessing until the end as to whether Walsh will make it.

This Blu-ray release is therefore downright essential viewing – either as a first time experience to catch up with an out-and-out classic that you may have missed, or to re-live the joy in brilliant high definition.

Certificate: 18
Running time: 126mins
UK Blu-ray Release: April 20, 2015